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Denzel Valentine undergoing season-ending knee surgery

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The Bulls shut down Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn for the rest of the season.

Now, Denzel Valentine will join them on the shelf.

Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

Denzel Valentine joins the Bulls’ permanent inactive list after the team announced he’ll have an arthroscopic debridement on his left knee after experiencing swelling, ending his promising second season with five games remaining.

Valentine will undergo the procedure Wednesday, his third procedure in his career. He underwent surgery in high school and in college at Michigan State, his last in December 2015.

A source close to him called it “a minor clean-up” as opposed to something that could affect him long-term.

People close to players are usually incentivized to paint the situation in the most favorable light. Whether or not this is actually minor, the messaging would probably sound similar.

Valentine showed nice progress in his second season, but the biggest concern about his game is athleticism. Another knee surgery only exacerbates that.

With the Bulls tanking, there was no reason for Valentine to delay this surgery. Better to take care of it now and maximize recovery time before next season. Plus, losing Valentine will only help Chicago lose more and get a higher draft pick.

After previously saying he wants to play all 82 games, LeBron James calls it a media narrative

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A few years ago, LeBron James said he planned to play all 82 games for the first time in his career. He wound up playing just 76.

Earlier this season, LeBron expressed a desire to play all 82 games. With the Cavaliers having just five games remaining, he has a chance.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“That has never been my plan, that’s been y’all narrative,” James said Tuesday morning, before he suits up for Cavs game No. 78 against the Toronto Raptors. “That’s never been my plan. My plan is to play one game at a time and see how I feel after that game and be a part of game this year, so but that’s never been my plan. I didn’t come into the season, saying, ‘OK, we’re going to play 82 games this season but my plan is to be as healthy as I can, work on my body, train my body every day to be available for my teammates every game and if that allows me to play tonight, as I am, then let’s go.

“And hopefully I’ll be in position where I’m able to go on Thursday as well, so we’ll take it day by day.”

Kind of weird for LeBron to pin the storyline on the media after repeatedly talking about it as a personal goal.

Is this a sign he’ll rest if Cleveland – which will probably finish between third and fifth – locks into its playoff spot before the regular season ends?

He’s gearing up for a big playoff run, and if resting helps, he should do it. At that point, I can see why he’d want to downplay the importance of playing all 82, lest not doing so be seen as a personal failing.

76ers set to unveil sculpture of Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving

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CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) The Philadelphia 76ers are paying tribute to Hall of Famer Julius Erving.

The NBA team will unveil a sculpture of Erving during a ceremony Tuesday at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. It will be the sixth sculpture installed on “76ers Legends Walk.” It will join statues of other team greats, including Wilt Chamberlain and Billy Cunningham.

More commonly known as “Dr. J,” Erving was a two-time NBA MVP and an 11-time all-star who led the 76ers to the 1983 NBA title. He played 16 seasons overall in the NBA and ABA.

The 76ers retired his No. 6 jersey in 1988. He was honored as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996.

Nerlens Noel, Thabo Sefolosha suspended five games for violating NBA’s drug policy

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Nerlens Noel‘s year has been a disaster.

He rejected a sizable contract to accept the qualifying offer, got labeled as not a hard worker and left the Mavericks for weeks for a not-pressing thumb surgery. The most notable thing he did this season was eat a hot dog.

Now, he and the Jazz’s Thabo Sefolosha have been suspended.

NBA:

The NBA announced today that Nerlens Noel of the Dallas Mavericks and Thabo Sefolosha of the Utah Jazz have each been suspended without pay for five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

Noel’s suspension will begin with tonight’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers.  Sefolosha’s suspension will begin with the next NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

Though the NBA doesn’t name the drug, the only five-game drug suspension specified in the Collective Bargaining Agreement is for a third marijuana violation. In a time where marijuana is increasingly legal and accepted, the NBA shouldn’t test and penalize players for it. Yet, here we are.

It’s particularly absurd to test someone like Sefolosha, who’s out for the season injured. And while he might garner more sympathy than Noel, don’t forget both players are hurt by this antiquated policy.

At least Noel can finish this suspension during this already-lost season. Dallas has five games left. Then, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Sefolosha’s $5.25 million salary next season is unguaranteed. His versatility unlocked many effective lineups, but him having to miss five games next season could influence Utah’s decision.

NBA fines Quincy Acy, Andre Drummond for fight

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Quincy Acy and Andre Drummond got ejected for fighting during the Pistons’ win over the Nets on Sunday.

Now, come the additional penalties.

NBA release:

Brooklyn Nets forward Quincy Acy and Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond have each been fined for their roles in an on-court altercation, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which both players were ejected, occurred with 18.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter of the Nets’ 108-96 loss to the Pistons on Sunday, April 1 at Barclays Center.

Acy has been fined $25,000 for aggressively pursuing Drummond and attempting to further an altercation. Drummond has been fined $15,000 for engaging in an altercation by shoving Acy.

Acy should feel fortunate he didn’t get suspended. He hit a referee in the face while wildly swinging his arms to get at Drummond. Even if the contact was inadvertent, it happened.